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Can vegan protein support muscle as good as animal protein?

Can vegan protein support muscle as good as animal protein?

A recent study looked at whether a vegan diet containing protein from non-animal sources might support muscle growth and repair during strength training just as well as a diet containing animal protein.

Young, healthy adults who were divided into two groups and given high-protein diets based on either animals or plants were used in the study.

Findings revealed that muscle mass and strength gains were comparable across the two groups, proving that resistance exercise combined with a high-protein, non-animal derived diet can be just as effective as a diet heavy in animal derived protein sources.

A recent study demonstrated that mycoprotein generated from fungi is just as effective as animal protein at promoting muscle growth during resistance exercise.

Two sections made up the study. 16 young, healthy persons were divided into two groups for the first stage of the study—eight men and eight women.

Both groups engaged in daily leg workouts, but only one (designated OMNI1) consumed a diet high in animal protein, while the other (designated VEG1) consumed a diet high in non-animal sources of protein.

The amount of muscle protein produced both during exercise and during rest was quantified by the researchers.

In the second portion of the trial, 22 young, healthy adults (11 men and 11 women) engaged in a 10-week leg training regimen five days per week. Both high-protein diets made of non-animal sources and high-protein diets made of animal sources were consumed by some of them (OMNI2) (VEG2).

Before and after the program, as well as two and five weeks into it, the research team examined the size of the leg muscles as well as the size of the body’s overall muscles, strength, and function.

Researchers discovered that compared to when the legs were at rest, exercising the legs boosted the rate of muscle protein creation by roughly 12%.

The amino acid content can differ

Amino acids make up proteins. Over 20 distinct amino acids are used by the human body to create proteins. While your body can produce some amino acids on its own, nine of them are considered to be essential and must be obtained through diet.

The kinds of amino acids present in different protein sources might differ significantly. Animal proteins are typically referred to as complete proteins since they include all nine necessary amino acids.

Many additional plant foods are regarded as incomplete sources of protein, despite the fact that some plant proteins, such as pea protein and soybeans, are also full protein sources.

This means that while plant-based foods like wheat, beans, and peanuts are high in total protein, they also lack one or more important amino acids. To meet your body’s requirements, you can still readily combine these partial plant protein sources.

A nice example of a combination that yields a complete protein source is a peanut butter sandwich. Peanuts are high in the amino acid lysine, whereas the wheat used to produce bread is deficient in it, making them a complete protein meal or snack.

To make sure they get all the necessary amino acids, persons following a vegetarian or vegan diet should consume a range of plant proteins.

Rich protein sources

You can choose from a huge selection of sources of plant and animal protein.

Animal protein sources

Among the many sources of animal proteins are:

  • eggs
  • seafood and fish
  • fatty meat
  • poultry
  • Wild animal
  • dairy items like cheese, yoghurt, and milk

Typically, sources of animal protein also contain additional crucial elements, such as heme iron and vitamin B12. Compared to non-heme iron, which is present in plant foods, heme iron is more easily absorbed.

It’s important to remember that some animal proteins are less nutrient-dense than others. For instance, highly processed animal foods like hot dogs and chicken nuggets are bad for your health since they are high in unhealthy fats and sodium.

Choose nutrient-dense sources of animal protein instead, such as whole eggs, salmon, chicken, turkey, and shellfish.

Plant protein sources

Plant proteins can be found in a variety of places, including:

  • beans
  • nuts
  • legumes
  • goods made from soybeans include tofu, tempeh, and edamame
  • buckwheat
  • Isaiah bread
  • quinoa
  • wheat
  • a wild rice
  • dietary yeast
  • the chia seed
  • seed hemp
  • spirulina

All nine essential amino acids are present in Ezekiel bread, quinoa, buckwheat, spirulina, soybeans, nutritional yeast, chia seeds, and hemp seeds, making them complete protein sources. Some plant protein sources, such as beans, nuts, legumes, wheat, and wild rice, are deficient in one or more essential amino acids.

Getting all the required amino acids on an entirely plant-based diet is still doable, it may just require a bit more work because plant foods contain various levels of different amino acids.

You may make sure that you’re getting all the necessary amino acids in your diet by consuming a varied diet and combining complimentary plant proteins, such in the aforementioned peanut butter sandwich.

Other complete protein combos include pasta salad with kidney beans, rice and beans, and hummus and pita bread.

Plant protein health benefits

Compared to diets high in animal protein, plant-based diets have been linked to considerable drops in blood pressure. Also, research indicates that vegetarians have a lower body mass index, lower cholesterol levels, and a decreased risk of stroke, cancer, and heart disease death than meat eaters.

Yet not all plant-based diets are equal, and not all plant-based foods are automatically good for your heart. One study linked a lower risk of heart disease to plant-based diets high in nutrient-dense plant foods such as whole grains, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.

Conversely, plant-based diets strong in processed grains and less nutrient-dense foods like fried veggies were linked to a higher risk.

Blood sugar control may also be enhanced by plant-based diets. Several observational studies have demonstrated the value of these diets in the management and prevention of type 2 diabetes.

The incidence of type 2 diabetes is greatly reduced with diets high in nutrient-dense plant foods, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and vegetable oils.

Although these findings are encouraging, they do not prove that these health advantages derive from cutting out sources of animal protein; rather, the advantages may come from consuming more nutrient-dense plant foods.

Animal protein health benefits

Also linked to beneficial health consequences are specific animal protein sources. For instance, regular fish consumption has been associated with a variety of health advantages, such as a decreased risk of cognitive decline and heart disease.

Moreover, consuming animal protein has been associated with a rise in lean muscle mass and a reduction in the aging-related loss of muscle.

Some animal protein sources have been associated to lowered cholesterol levels, increased muscle mass, and lowered risk of heart disease.

Animal protein not essential for muscle building

According to James Dixon, a certified personal trainer and expert in fitness and nutrition, “the findings of this study are significant since they cast doubt on the widely held notion that animal protein is required for muscle growth.”

The results are encouraging and support the idea that more individuals should promote a vegan diet and give up eating meat. In my opinion, this study also emphasises the significance of both animal and plant-based protein sources when formulating diets for people who practise resistance exercise, said Dixon.

He said that people who might have negative reactions to products like Quorn might look for other protein sources. “I notice a movement in focus on tailored diets rather than the conventional idea that vegan diets are tougher for people growing muscles and resistance training,” he said.

This study will increase interest in plant-based proteins, and we might soon see widespread trends toward vegetarian and vegan diets. Growing interest will be shown in alternative protein sources outside mycoprotein that might be just as efficient. James Dixon stated that people can include protein sources such as beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, vegetables, soy products, or other wheat-based proteins.

Plant-based protein sources of the future

Dixon noted that, despite the fact that Quorn was utilised in the study, “some forms of mushrooms or microalgae are being explored as potential plant-based protein sources.”

He claimed that “mushroom protein based on mycelium is high in protein and can be generated from agricultural waste.”

As plant-based protein sources, spirulina and chlorella are being researched. The process is more environmentally friendly and sustainable because these protein-rich microalgae need minimal space and water to thrive, Dixon noted.

In the end, more protein sources, including goods derived from microalgae, will be created, expanding the possibilities available to the general people. People will find it easier to include more plant-based protein sources in their diets as a result of this.


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